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Youngkin Blocked Ford Battery Plant over China Concerns

By Terri Wu

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (L) at a campaign event for Republican Congressional candidate Yesli Vega in Fredericksburg, Va., on Nov. 5, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin does not want his state to participate in the Ford Motor Co. request to build a battery manufacturing plant due to national security concerns associated with China. The automaker has an ongoing agreement with a Chinese company.

“We felt that the right thing to do was to not recruit Ford as a front for China to America,” Youngkin told reporters on Jan 11., after his State of the Commonwealth speech to the General Assembly. Later, Richard Cullen, the governor’s chief legal counsel, told the Washington Post that the battery project involved “national security risk-type technology.”

In his address to the General Assembly at the beginning of a new legislative session, Youngkin said that the risk tied to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was “common sense,” calling the CCP “a dictatorial political party that only has one goal: global dominance at the expense of the United States.”

He explained the balance between attracting business to Virginia and incurring CCP-related national security risks: “I’ve said before that I want ‘Made in America’ to mean ‘Made in Virginia.’ But let me be clear, ‘Made in Virginia’ cannot be a front for the Chinese Communist Party.”

In his speech, Youngkin also highlighted his support for an upcoming bill prohibiting foreign entities tied to the CCP from buying farmland in Virginia. “Virginians—not the CCP—should own the rich and vibrant agricultural lands God has blessed us with,” he added. “The stakes are too high, and the consequences are too great.”

Last month, Youngkin issued an Executive Order (pdf) to ban TikTok and WeChat apps on Virginia state-owned devices.

The Daily Caller first reported in December that Youngkin directed the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) to remove Virginia from location consideration for the Ford battery plant and not to submit an incentive package.

The agreement between Ford and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) to supply batteries to Ford’s electric vehicles would qualify CATL to receive lucrative production tax benefits under the new Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), according to a Bloomberg report. The report also said that the ownership structure of the deal would be Ford owning 100 percent of the plant and CATL owning the technology and operations of the facility.

CATL is the world’s biggest maker of batteries for electric vehicles, providing batteries for automakers such as General Motors (GM), Ford, and Tesla. The New York Times reported in 2021 that Beijing gave CATL much support in subsidies and soft regulatory treatment, such as modifications in safety test requirements.

The Times quoted Michael Dunne, a former GM executive in Asia, saying, “CATL definitely seems like it’s the concept and creation of a master plan.” The newspaper also reported that President Biden’s son Hunter Biden was once on the board of CATL.

Regarding the deal with CATL, a Ford spokesperson shared with Virginia Mercury that the plan was to start the battery plant in 2026, and the “talks with CATL continue.” A VEDP spokesperson said the organization wouldn’t comment on “unannounced projects.”

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